A US report has found most shoppers value the role of technology in retail, with innovation that assists in the product search and selection process their favoured form of tech implementation.
According to the latest Consumer View Report from the US National Retail Federation more than three in five shoppers believe technology and innovation has improved the retail experience, but this varies across the channels available.
Here’s an insight into which technology shoppers’ value and how they believe it improves the retail experience.
Technology across the channels
When it comes to the retail channel where shoppers expect and adopt technology the most, online naturally ranks as the highest.
Eighty per cent of shoppers felt technology had improved their experience online, while 66 per cent believed it had improved their experience in-store, and 63 per cent felt it improved their experience on mobile.
Product search and selection
Product search and selection is the main area where shoppers expect and benefit from technology, the report found.
- 55 per cent of shoppers wanted to know whether a product was in-store or available, and 52 per cent felt it was very important that brands or retailers have these technologies and innovations.
- 49 per cent wanted assistance comparing products prices or reviews, and 42 per cent felt these technologies were very important.
- 47 per cent wanted it to be easier to find a product or location, with 41 per cent viewing this technology as important.
When it came to the areas of greatest technology awareness and adoption, payment methods are the most familiar innovation for shoppers.
The report found most consumers were aware of new technologies like self-checkouts, mobile payments, and buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and many shoppers have embraced these retail solutions which simplify the checkout experience.
Self-checkout – 62 per cent of consumers are aware of the self-checkout, 89 per cent of those who are aware have tried it and 63 per cent were satisfied.
Mobile payment – 59 per cent of consumers are aware of mobile payment. Of those, 57 per cent have tried it and 69 per cent are satisfied.
BOPIS – 56 per cent of consumers are aware of buy online pickup in store. Of those, 71 per cent have tried it and 67 per cent were satisfied with the process.
Other technology adoption
While product search and selection ranks as the most important technology for shoppers, and payment innovation is the most familiar, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of other new tech tools rolling out across retail.
Voice assistants – 43 per cent of shoppers are aware of voice assistants. Of those 64 per cent have tried them and are interested in doing so again.
Social shopping – 34 per cent of shoppers are aware of social shopping, with 78 per cent having tried it and interested in using it again.
In-app store navigation – 56 per cent of shoppers have heard of in-app store navigation. Of those, 89 per cent have tried it and would do so again.
Visual search – 27 per cent are aware of virtual search, and of those, 86 per cent have tried it and would do so again.
Virtual reality – 21 per cent of consumers have heard of virtual reality. Of those, 82 per cent have tried it and would be interested in using it again.
Augmented reality – On a similar note, 21 have also heard of augmented reality, while 86 per cent have tried it and are interested in using it again.
Virtual fit – 19 per cent of shoppers have heard of virtual fit. Of those who are aware, 83 per cent have used it and are interested in trying it again.
Smart dressing room – Just 15 per cent of shoppers have heard of smart dressing rooms, and 88 per cent of them have tried it and would do so again.
Simplifying the shopping process
Although consumers have more awareness of technology and its role in the retail experience, its value at present lies in simplifying and streamlining the shopping process.
“Roughly half of consumers are very interested in solutions that take the uncertainty out of shopping — whether that’s knowing that an item is in stock or getting accurate information on prices and reviews,” the NRF report noted.
“And ability to address these needs is already shaping consumers’ decisions on the brands and retailers they shop. These more tactical needs currently outweigh the interest in more personalised or engaging experiences. That is not to say that personalisation or retail-tainment is not a differentiating factor for shoppers, but retailers first have to deliver on the basics.”